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Shawna L. Daley and Richard L. Hassell

Application of fatty alcohol compounds to rootstock meristems can control rootstock meristematic regrowth, thus decreasing the cost of producing grafted watermelon transplants by reducing the labor. Eight rates of Fair 85® and Off-Shoot T®, two commercially available fatty alcohol compounds, were applied to the meristem region of bottle gourd (Lagenaria sicereria cv. Emphasis) and interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita maxima × Cucurbita moschata cv. Carnivor) rootstocks to determine the optimal application rate to control regrowth without damaging the remaining plant parts. A water-only control treatment was also included. Rootstock seedlings were rated for damage and regrowth on Days 1, 7, 14, and 21 after treatment. Damage increased and regrowth decreased with increasing rates of fatty alcohol compound. In addition, a significant compound-by-rate interaction indicated that inert ingredients in the fatty alcohol formulation have an effect on both damage and regrowth. The optimal treatment rate, e.g., providing at least 95% control of regrowth with less than 10% damage, was found to be between a 5% (Off-Shoot T®) and 6.25% (Fair 85®) fatty alcohol application. At the optimal treatment rate, no adverse effects to grafting success were observed in the grafting procedure.

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Shawna L. Daley, Jeffrey Adelberg, and Richard L. Hassell

Application of fatty alcohol to rootstocks used for vegetable grafting has been shown to increase the efficiency of producing grafted transplants by controlling cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) rootstock meristematic regrowth and by allowing the rootstocks to accumulate carbohydrates, especially starch, over time in the hypocotyl and cotyledon. A grafting experiment was conducted to determine the effect of increased carbohydrates on survival of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grafts using standard grafting procedures. ‘Carnivor’ interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita maxima × C. moschata) and ‘Macis’ bottle gourd (Lagenaria sicereria) rootstocks at 1, 7, 14, and 21 days after fatty alcohol treatment were grafted with ‘Tri-X 313’ seedless watermelon using the one-cotyledon method. Graft survival on ‘Macis’ rootstock was acceptable or significantly increased up to day 14, with a slight decrease at day 21. Graft survival on ‘Carnivor rootstock was also acceptable up to day 21, with a significant increase between days 1 and 7. The second experiment was conducted to determine whether the increased carbohydrates provide sufficient energy to successfully graft without the rootstock cotyledon, a method that has previously shown inconsistent results. Graft survival was improved by 90% using treated ‘Carnivor’ rootstock 7 days after fatty alcohol treatment and ‘Macis’ rootstock 14 days after fatty alcohol treatment. Adoption of the hypocotyl-only graft method in commercial production may increase efficiency by better using greenhouse space and could decrease disease probability by removing the cotyledons before grafting.

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Shawna L. Daley, William Patrick Wechter, and Richard L. Hassell

Fatty alcohol treatments can be used to eliminate the meristem of cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) rootstocks, which prevents regrowth when grafting, but the effects of the treatment on the rootstock have not been documented. Two rootstock types, ‘Emphasis’ bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) and ‘Carnivor’ interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita maxima × C. moschata) commonly used in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grafting significantly increased in cotyledon and hypocotyl size over 21 days after treatment (DAT) with a 6.25% fatty alcohol emulsion. There was a significant increase in total soluble sugar (glucose, sucrose, and fructose) content for each rootstock hypocotyl and cotyledon. Starch concentrations of hypocotyls and cotyledons also increased significantly in both rootstocks. This increase in stored energy could greatly increase the success rate of the grafting process. Increased rootstock energy reserves could overcome the need for keeping the rootstock cotyledon intact when grafting.